Devotions By Jan


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Message in a Bottle

message12.05.17-mjs_ft_message-in-a-bottle_27865657_582_388Scripture for Today: Jeremiah 31:3 “The Lord appeared to us in the past saying, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.'”

The idea of putting an important message in a bottle is nothing new.  There are records of it being done as far back as 310 BC!  But the story of a British WWI soldier, sending a message in 1914 was especially touching.  It did not discuss enemy movements, or a shipwreck story nor was it an experiment to test the movements of the currents.  It was a love note addressed to his wife.  This soldier died two days later and although the wife had since died by the time it was discovered in 1999, his daughter at the age of 86 was thrilled to have it!

Today’s verse describes the Lord’s love for us as everlasting.  Much more dependable than a floating bottle, He has written His message of love in the Bible that dates back centuries.  It is a timeless message of a love that is kind and unconditional.  The everlasting nature of His love draws the receptive and searching heart.  But like the passerby pictured, too many walk by that message, never stopping to investigate.  He has been faithful to communicate His love clearly, but the message is not always received.  Or the message is misheard to be, “I will love you if…”

His love for me changes how I look at myself.  I am important enough for Him to actually write down how He feels about me!  Of course my husband’s love and my family’s love is important.  But nothing is as wide, long, high or deep as His love (Eph.3:18).  It is always kind.  It will never fail.  And He loves me in spite of who I am!

Thank you Lord, for Your everlasting love!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.

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Dormant

mount-edgecumbeScripture for Today: James 1:19b-20 “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”

The residents of Kruzof Island got quite a scare when seeing this black plume rise out Edgecumbe mountain.  The volcano on this Alaskan island was thought to be dormant as it had not erupted for four thousand years.  (A volcano is classed as “dormant” when it has not erupted in the last ten thousand years.)  When a helicopter flew over to investigate, they found it to be an elaborate prank by a resident who had set fire to tires!

Today’s verse encourages us to be inclined to listen rather than to speak, and to be slow in becoming angry.  Our anger, even in the face of injustice usually does more harm than good.  Our anger does not always result in righteousness.  More often than not, even justified anger ends up being something for which we ask forgiveness.  God’s anger, vengeance, and justice however always produces righteousness.  When we are slow to anger, allowing it to lie dormant, we give ourselves the opportunity to see God work!

There is always some level of anger underneath the surface.  There are times I have been wronged personally.  I get especially angry when I see family members hurt.  Rather than lash out, I need to wait and see the Lord take care of it, in His way and in His timing.  Allowing my anger to spill out serves no purpose at all.  Burying it below the surface is not ideal either, but better than erupting!  I need to trust in His perfect justice!  God’s Spirit gives me the control to slow down the anger and not erupt!

Lord, I need your control today.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.


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That Pothole

Pothole_1911993bScripture for Today: Isaiah 26:7 “The path of the righteous is level; You, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth.”

There is nothing worse than seeing that pothole too late!  The resulting thud and bounce matches what my heart does!  Unfortunately, this scenario is quite common in California.  One would not think so as California does not deal with lots of snow as do other states.  But even so it is a problem and one that can result in some expensive repairs.  Insurance companies often have claims involving pothole damage to the tires and suspension.

Today’s verse describes a path that is level and smooth.  It is not that way as a result of our own efforts.  It is level and smooth because of what the Lord does for the righteous.  Without His intervention, life is full of ups and downs and unwelcome jolts to our progress.  On our own, the path we take not only becomes rough and uncomfortable but also takes us in the wrong direction! (Isaiah 53:6).  But in living out the righteousness that He gives us through Jesus Christ, we can have a totally different ride!

I wish this verse meant that there would never be any problems for the believer.  However, we are told we will have troubles in this world (John 16:33).  But in choosing to follow His Word, we at least avoid additional and unnecessary problems of our own making.  Sin just hurts and complicates life, whether our sin or that of someone else.  But in His grace the Lord will sometimes smooth over even those rough patches.  When He allows the jolts, He brings us through with new dependence on Him.

Lord, I need You to smooth out what looks like rough road ahead.  Thank you that I can trust You.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.


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Complaint Department

complaintdear-customer-please--note--that--our--complaint--department--haScripture for Today: Psalm 142:2 “I pour out my complaint before Him; I show before Him my trouble.”

I cannot remember the last time I saw a sign for a “Complaint Department.”  And I can understand why they would not want to be too visible.  Making this department as inaccessible as possible seems smart!   Inviting a disgruntled customer to express his frustration seems like inviting trouble.  To be the person handling the complaints would require enormous patience.  I would not be the best qualified for this position!  Perhaps the complaint department has been replaced by expressing poor reviews on social media.

The verse for today was written by David while hiding out from Saul in a cave.  He had plenty of reason to complain.  Saul was intent on killing David without cause.  His complaints were voiced out loud and he cried out for God to deliver him.  David did not try to sugar coat his emotions.  He complained of his troubles.  But like so many of David’s psalms, he ends it on a positive note with confidence that God will work in his favor.

I take heart when I read this psalm.  The Lord knows exactly what I am thinking and feeling.  I might as well voice it and get it all out in front of Him.  Nothing shocks the Lord and He can take it.  Unlike the person handling customer complaints, His patience with me is infinite!  Not only does He patiently listen, He has all the power to do something about it.  And like David, voicing my complaints and troubles to Him puts me back on my knees in prayer.  Before long, He reassures me that He is on it.  I can look at my troubles differently after handing them over to Him.

Thank you Lord, for patiently listening.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.


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Salt Blocks

Scripture for Today: Matthew 5;13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.”

As a city girl, just about everything having to do with animals and their care is a surprise for me!  The salt block was one such surprise.  I am always being told to limit my intake of sodium for better health.  But for these horses, that salt they are busily licking gives them added nutrition necessary for optimum health.  They require two to four tablespoons per day to keep their sodium levels where they should be.  Without it, the blood will not hold enough water and the kidneys are affected.

Today’s verse tells us that as believers we are called the salt of the earth.  We are to have an influence on those around us.  Our tasty contribution to this world is to draw attention to the Father and His glory (verse 16).  We sprinkle our surroundings with acts of love and kindness that point to Him.  But we can lose that saltiness by living for our own comfort and pleasure.  We can lose our saltiness by taking credit for the good things we have done rather than giving Him the praise that is due Him.

For me to be salt and an influence for Christ, I need to be out there in the world.   Salt does no good sitting on the shelf with all the other salt shakers.  But there is always the risk of losing my saltiness.  Living to serve others is not always a comfortable way to live.  I am faced everyday with the temptation to live entirely for myself.

Lord, make my testimony strong and salty for You.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.


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Checkmate

IMG_20151204_152757Scripture for Today:  James 4:15 “Instead you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

My grandsons had no idea where each chess piece should be placed to begin or even continue a game!  Their Nana sure could not help, but they had fun anyway, confidently moving the pieces around according to some unseen vision in their little heads!  The strategy escapes me but I do know enough to recognize that “check” is not what one wants to hear, and “checkmate” even less, signaling that the game is over.

Today’s verse talks about making plans for the future.  Of course it is important in reaching any goal to carefully plan a strategy.  A building is not begun without considering the estimated cost (Luke 14:28).  But this passage is speaking to the arrogance of making plans without thought to the plans the Lord may have.  We do not know what tomorrow will hold or whether we will have life and breath to carry out our future plans (verse 14).  The unexpected can always “check” or “checkmate” our progress.

When I make plans I want to always recognize that the Lord may have something different in mind.  Recognizing this keeps me humble and it keeps me in an attitude of submission.  Recognizing His control also keeps me asking and listening to Him.  As wonderful as I think my plan is, I do not want to miss out on something better!  He knows what tomorrow holds.  He knows what health issues I may be facing later.  Being overconfident about my plans is seen as “boasting” in the Lord’s eyes (verse 16).  There may be a change of plan but through it I can trust Him.

Lord, keep me following Your plan.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.


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The Emerald

Scripture for Today: Revelation 4:3 “And the One who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne.”

The color and brilliance of this emerald take my breath away!  This gemstone is a variety of the mineral beryl.  But what classifies it as an emerald is its deep bluish to pure green color saturation.  And the more it is transparent the more it is valuable with its shine.  The small fissures in the stone are called the stone’s “jardin” (garden).  Some are treated with oil to fill in these natural fissures.  Although the emerald has been mined for centuries, today one can buy synthetic emeralds.  But somehow it is not the same.

The shine of an emerald is the image John uses in today’s verse to describe a rainbow that encircles God’s throne.  Its brilliance will be awe-inspiring and fitting for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  But He Himself will have an appearance just as brilliant as the stunning ruby and the crystal-like jasper.  These precious stones, as beautiful as they are, do not come close to describing God’s magnificence.  His glory would be blinding if not for our new bodies with its new eyes.  We will be filled with the wonder of His beauty as we fall to our knees in worship and praise.

I need to be reminded of God’s incredible beauty and glory.  Too often I over-simplify God in an attempt to understand Him.  I can only know His reflection for now, but one day we will be face to face (I Cor. 13:12).  Then I will know Him fully, as fully as He knows me!  What a day that will be!  No more flawed impressions, wrong ideas, or ambiguity.

Lord, give me another glimpse of Your glory today.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.